COLUMBIA — Bret Lott, author of an Oprah’s Book Club selection, “Jewel,” will be lecturing and working individually with student writers at MU this week as part of the Center for the Literary Arts’ Visiting Writer Residency.
The center brings two resident writers to MU every year for a public reading and lecture. Lott’s lecture, titled “Why Write Anyway?”, will address the overarching topic of why one writes in the first place.
“I think that we write initially because we love what we have read,” Lott said. “Poems move us, stories excite us, nonfiction intrigues us and because we see something of ourselves in what we have read, we try it ourselves because there is something inside us that wants to be communicated in the hopes the readers of our work will understand us.”
During his residency, Lott will also be reading from his upcoming novel, “Ancient Highway.” Lott said the book simultaneously follows three generations of a family at different times in the last century.
“His stories show the beauty of being human and help us to understand what being human means, and hearing them in a human voice is an awesome opportunity,” said Chad Parmenter, the center’s assistant director.
Lott is currently a professor of English and writer-in-residence at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. He has written seven novels, three collections of short stories and two nonfiction books But he hopes his lecture will not be limited to one form or another.
“I would hope that they take from this talk a sense that writing in and of itself, no matter the form, is worth the work, and that writing to please others or to meet the expectations of others shouldn’t be the reason one writes,” he said.
Parmenter said he hopes that hearing the lecture and reading in a human voice will bring Lott’s writing to life.
“The lecture will be a way for us to see how the writing we’ve always wanted to do is not only possible, but important,” Parmenter said.
Lott’s visit will also continue the tradition of bringing authors such as John Updike, Derek Walcott and Joyce Carol Oates to the community.
“This tradition is CLA’s way of bringing timeless writing to life for the students of Mizzou, the people of Columbia and anyone else who’s able to join us,” Parmenter said.